Saturday, November 1, 2014


November is Picture Book Month! I'm rocking out a Bookaday celebration of picture books!

Today I'm sharing ideas for using Ninja! by Arree Chung as a mentor text.

GoodReads Summary:
A ninja must be strong, courageous, and silent! He creeps through the house on a secret mission. There may be obstacles! But have no fear—a true ninja can overcome all challenges.
We really took our time looking at the pictures in this book! There were many pages with multiple panels and sometimes we even found ourselves going back forth between pages to make sure we knew what was happening. I've got some adventurous little dudes in my house so we know all about ninja-type moves around the house!
Here are some literacy ideas to go along with Ninja! by Arree Chung!

1. Since we spent a lot of time on the pictures in this book, I think it makes a great mentor text for close reading with young students. Close reading doesn't have to just be passages of text, it's totally cool to close read illustrations in a book. Illustrations in picture books are an integral part of telling the story so it's important to know that the illustrations and the text should work together. I might stop and ask students to describe what they see in the different panels. This could be a shared group activity or each student could write an idea on a sticky note and put it into the book.

(Side note - I will never ever forget taking Peanut to a story time where a teenager read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss to the kids. She skipped all the pages at the beginning when Sam is going by with his sign and just started where the words start! I was shocked but it was a good reminder to me that we have to model and show students how important it is to read more than only the words.)

2. There are a few places especially where a lot of action is happening and it might be a great opportunity to think about some super descriptive verbs - verbs that pack punch! I love talking about how we can put words on a continuum. You can take the word jump and brainstorm synonyms and then put them on a continuum, stacking the words so that the less intense words are at the bottom and then the words increase up to the top. So for jump, you might have hop at the very bottom and then a whole range of synonyms for jump all the way up to bound.

3. When you read Ninja!, you'll find that there is another character other than our little super-sneaky friend. She's a bit of a surprise and there is a little suspense until we know if she'll be an ally to our young warrior or not...and it would be a great exercise in point or view or perspective for students to try and tell her her side of the story. Oh! There is one more minor character...can you find her? And what might her side of the story be?

Read With: 
Dog in Charge by Dan Santat
Comics Squad: Recess! edited by Jennifer and Matthew Holm and Jarrett Krosoczka
I would so recommend reading Dog in Charge by Dan Santat in conjunction with Ninja! because of the similar style of story-telling. Dan Santat also uses panels and gives students an opportunity to read the pictures. 

As soon as we opened up the front cover of Ninja! and read about how a ninja must be super sneaky, it reminded me of "The Super Secret Ninja Club" by Gene Yang in Comics Squad: Recess! I've read that story and over and over and over and I love the connection between the two in terms of thinking about what a ninja has to be skilled at. This might lead to some research and reading of informational text to learn more about being a ninja.

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